Common Sense? New Revision Series.

Sayings from long long ago:

“If you’re so smart why aren’t you rich?”


“Common sense is not so common.”

An article in yesterday’s NY Times caught my attention:

How ‘Fairy Tale’ Farms Are Ruining Hudson Valley Agriculture”

Farmers are losing properties to wealthy buyers from the city, while leasing land from the new owners can feel like a “modern-day feudal system.” By Elizabeth G. Dunn Photographs by Gabby Jones. June 9, 2022 Updated 1:59 p.m. ET”


I lived in the Hudson Valley for 27 years and watched the agricultural movement grow. By the time I retired I was buying almost all of the food I ate from the farm stands and the Sunday Farmer’s’ Market. The orchard fruits were spectacular and the growers truly wonderful, very hard working, people. From May until late into the Fall my produce bags were brimming and there was fresh fish, eggs, meats, and dairy products direct from local sources to add to the bounty. It wasn’t always the cheapest way to eat but freshness and taste (and nutrition) surpassed all else. Winters of grocery store produce became dreadful.

I left the area before Covid hit but I’d been there through the fear years after 9/11 when real estate was being gobbled up by urban dwellers from further south, scared they were not finished with panic situations. They were right. But their unequal buying power did real damage. According to this new article the well minted are now buying farmland which they want to remain picturesque. They want dual purpose barns where animals can be housed, then moved to accommodate wedding receptions. Having moved a fair amount of pig and chicken manure from a small barn on a Vermont homestead for a few years I can assure you manure and bridal attire are not compatible. We can chuckle together at the folly in this story but therein lies a deep truth we are all avoiding: having money does not make you smart. The food on your plate did not get there easily or with pristine hands. And the true price of things often has little to do with money at all.

Who will feed the growing world populations? We are just getting glimpses of the tragedies to come as nations dependent on harvests from Ukraine will not be there as backup. This is the tip of a very large iceberg. If local, state, and national governments do nothing to tip the balance of who can buy what land and use it for whatever purpose, we will see starvation spread.

There are all kinds of damage to the land which sustains us. Trendy ornamental plants replaced native species, the home and food for pollinators whose numbers have declined in alarming leaps. There is no end to our ignorance. We think of land which we buy as ours! to do with as we see fit, only our vision rarely contains what is, has been, and will be, required. Guns and wars are only two ways to hasten human die-off. What don’t you or I know about why the increasing numbers of deer are now taking over suburbia or showing up regularly in the middle of town and why their presence and the increasing presence of other “destructive” critters are so damaging to those who want to grow some of their own food? What are we thinking about when not wanting to mask or to travel like we used to? There are so many questions in so many areas we are not bothering to ask much less answer as long as things stay pretty. So some want fluffy white sheep grazing in green meadows without the unpleasantness of poop or the brutalness of birthing, or to be reminded of the harshness of life and death which is all around us? Plants, animals, people, air, water…..

Rich, poor, or in between we will live these fairy tales until reality bites. Then we will howl like banshees complaining of how unfair it all is.

Grandmothers: New Revision Postings

Memorial Day was founded to remember those who fought in war and gave “the ultimate sacrifice” but today my thoughts are centered on the Grandmothers. Wars have, mostly, been started by men and until the fairly recent past, mostly fought by men as well. The Grandmothers go forgotten although they often bore the burdens of those wars in ways men never once considered, but wars were hardly the only burdens they carried.

The photo here is the Grandmother I, and all of her other grandchildren, never met. She died at age 36 about to be discharged from a state mental hospital, circumstances unknown. Her eldest child, my mother, was thirteen and her fourth and last child, my Aunt Betty, was three. Family members have attempted to uncover records for her hospitalization and death but were told “there was a fire and all records were lost”. Was there anyone of her generation who knew the whole story? If so, none of us ever heard more.

Today I learned from my cousin who has the interest, talent, and persistence for genealogical research, that a journal and graduation record of our shared Grandmother was found. She had attended McGill for a couple of years. As her first child was born in 1922 college would have been an outstanding achievement for a woman of her time. What then is her story? Whatever the tale, it took place in context of her time when women did not have autonomy or agency. I think of her not only as an individual but as a woman bounded by the societal mores of class and gender because even now we must see our lives within these contexts.

Over time I have come to understand that we hear each other’s stories in ways that relate to our own experience. If you choose to stop at the point I’ve told you my direct blood relative died in a mental hospital that is your choice and I will only slightly wince. If however, I think of the line of history of women branded as hysterics or witches, understood in the context of the prevailing times, not as individuals with intelligence, knowledge, longings, and worth but as objects that fit into whatever worked in the world of men in the time that they lived, the possibilities of her story take on very different meanings. In this light, I question my Grandmother’s situation and wonder about the circumstances, the hows and whys she was in that hospital rather than with her family.

This photograph, which needs restorative work, haunts me. The intelligence of those eyes hold mysteries I, and all the progeny which came after her, will never know.

This remains the case for all our kin even those who are a part of our daily lives. We do not know what is carried, what longings or experiences are hidden in their hearts and minds, but the Grandmothers in particular carry their pasts holding or telling their secrets selectively or not at all, like shadows we cannot see.

I am not a Grandmother nor will I ever be, yet I, too, carry these things.